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Don't tell Ian McShane you don't understand Kings - TCA Report

by Joel Keller, posted Jul 22nd 2008 2:03AM
Ian McShaneTell you one thing about Ian McShane: he doesn't take any guff from anyone. Say something that he thinks is a load of crap and he'll tell you in no uncertain terms.

So, you can imagine what happens when you combine McShane's orneriness with a group of cranky critics who've been put through a long day by the folks at NBC on the last day of the press tour (there will be a day of set visits on Tueday, but no ballroom press conferences). The last panel is for McShane's new mid-season show, Kings, and the critics have been made extra cranky by the fact that, like all of NBC's new shows, they haven't seen the pilot for it yet. Mix in a somewhat hard-to-grasp premise. Stir liberally, and you get some momentary fireworks that woke up the collected critics at the very end of a long day.

Kings is a modern-day retelling of the tale of David and Goliath. Christopher Egan plays David, a young soldier in an unidentified country on an unidentified planet. During battle, he manages to defeat an almost impenetrable tank called "Golliath," making him a hero back home. This catapults him into the world of his country's king (McShane), who takes to David, but is wary of him at the same time.

When McShane and series creators Michael Green, Francis Lawrence, and Erwin Stoff tried to explain the parameters of this alternate world to a reporter who wanted clarification, they seemed to explain it well. It's a world which is familiar, but is devoid of the brands, pop culture references, and other familiar trappings of the world we know. McShane put it very succinctly: "I mean, there's no apocalyptic voice coming on, saying, 'It's the year 2025. The world is in disarray. These people are' -- we don't wear an overall or some kind of strange one-piece."

But when the reporter shot back with "OK. Now you're not making any sense at all," that's when McShane got annoyed.

"We're not making any sense? Is that what drama's about? Isn't drama -- excuse me -- for your ignorant remark. Isn't drama -- based on the fact -- we're not making any sense? What the hell kind of question? You ask a question. You want an answer or not? The world -- drama is built on biblical -- biblical -- the greatest novel written by 50 people ever. If you can't get a good story from that, you can't. What do you expect, it all spelled out for you now, that you should know what kind of pop culture or we're going to refer to Britney Spears' new child?"

Lawrence stepped in and calmed things down by explaining that "the difference is that you don't have Starbucks. You have a coffee shop. It's not a Starbucks. You don't have a BlackBerry, but there's phones and cell phone. There's no Britney Spears, but people sing songs."

McShane was cantankerous in a different way, when the inevitable question about Deadwood, its demise, and why there aren't any new movies came up. Surprisingly, it took almost fifteen minutes before someone actually asked that question. I'll just print it for you from the transcript:

"We always knew from the first day they started hedging that sort of strange remarks about saying, 'Oh, Mr. Milch is working on another show for HBO.' Well, he's always working on another show. He had a three-pack deal. David didn't come over just to do Deadwood, but when I think, maybe the conversation went something like, 'Well, how about this year, you know, because it was the most expensive show on television, David?' No, you all know David Milch. You know that (they said) "maybe we'd do eight episodes this year of Deadwood,' and probably came the reply, 'How about we do fucking none?'"

That got the crowd laughing, and McShane continued. "And I think it degenerated from there into the mutual sort of patting each other on the back saying, 'We'll do a new show for HBO.' And then all the talk about doing two movies, which was, I think, you know, a smoke screen, and then eventually the rather pathetic announcements that we could never get it together with everybody to do another show." McShane, though, went on to "bless" the network for putting Deadwood on in the first place.

I kind of wish all of the panels were like this. This wasn't the only NBC panel (there were ten of them today... thanks for the brutal last day, NBC!) where there was a bit of an undertone to the panelist's responses. One snarky panelist though was funny, while the other one was just annoying. I'll let you know which in a little while.

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wow, you just have to see it. i was on set for 2 days, (in the background), i cant wait for it to air and loved working with them. ian and all the cast and production and director were totally awesome. a lot going into this, you will love it.

July 23 2008 at 9:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why no questions on Lovejoy? There was some talk once of Lovejoy coming back but McShane got all caught up in Deadwood.

Can't someone ask him about Lovejoy at least?

July 23 2008 at 12:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yes, Deadwood! Bring it back. Let's start sending shot glasses to the HBO execs until they cave.

July 22 2008 at 2:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mj green

Aw, you critics get cranky after a hard day! How do you think these guys feel? They have to endure the same questions, over and over, and yet be witty or else you critics trash them. Bless him for not taking your guff. And yes, I miss Deadwood. It was a fantastic show. I will NEVER watch anything Milch does. We could have had an ending, but he got all huffy; plus he wanted to work on his great new show. HA. And most expensive? What, ROME wasn't expensive? Carnivale wasn't expensive? What rot. Ian rules.

July 22 2008 at 8:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mj green's comment
BC McKinney

Yeah, "Rome" was expensive, which is why it got canned after an abbreviated second season with a cobbled-together happy ending. "Carnivale" got two seasons and, iirc, ended with a cliffhanger. What's "rot" about the notion that networks cancel shows that don't bring in enough viewers to justify the expense of producing them, especially if the producers, or in some cases, stars, are "difficult"? "Deadwood" got 3 seasons and apparently could have continued. Eight episodes is more than a lot of British series/seasons.

July 22 2008 at 12:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wish he'd called someone a Hooplehead.

July 22 2008 at 8:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Maybe there's a different vibe that you as reporters are getting from actually being at this event, but in reading all of your reports, the vibe I get is that tv critics are generally a bunch of whiny, hard to please children who get bored easily when they don't get the salacious or blockbuster inside scoop they are looking for. The reporter, for instance, who told McShane "OK. Now you're not making any sense at all," in response to McShane's very clear and understandable reply sounds like a cranky brat who was baiting McShane in hopes of getting some fireworks. So he got a wee spark in response. He's probably patting him/herself on the back with pride and glee. Idiot.

July 22 2008 at 8:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to deebopalula's comment

Have you met the mainstream media? :) There's about a 85/15 split between percentages of reporters who aren't vain, annoying twits.

July 22 2008 at 8:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Deadwood was great and McShane is great, good times!

F off Tuzi.

July 22 2008 at 7:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Deadwood. Bring it back.

July 22 2008 at 4:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This dude is awesome.

July 22 2008 at 2:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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